Criminal Girls: Invite Only – Review
Follow Genre: RPG (adult)
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation TV
Tested on: PlayStation TV

Criminal Girls: Invite Only – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: Deeper story than you'd think, Concept
Bad: Censorship, No character customization
User Score
6.3
(3 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.3/10 (3 votes cast)

Criminal Girls: Invite Only already received a lot of attention, even before its release in the States and Europe. The original Criminal Girls, which was originally released on the PSP, was an adult RPG, where certain kinky scenes reigned supreme. Sadly, even with the adult rating, the game has undergone a lot of censorship, which hampers the original fun, but adult theme of the game.

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Introductory remarks

It’s sad to see that rating committees demanded that the game had to go through a decent amount of censorship in order for the game to be released outside of Japan. Even when the original game did not have any nudity in it, only certain suggestive poses and certain amounts of kinky behavior, that are peanuts compared to things like ‘fifty shades of grey’. It’s even more sad to see that a game has to be censored due to the fact that ‘sexy drawn’ girls would be so inappropriate to be shown to adult men and women whilst realistic games, that revolve around violence, can be released without any real problems. That being said, if the game would have been released in its original state, the score would have been a bit higher. Not only because of the skimpy dressed women, but because of the fact that the game would not feel handicapped.

Story

You, a regular nobody, are already sleeping on your first day on the job. Being slapped awake by your superior, you are dazed and you don’t seem to remember how you ended up as a prison guard or even where on earth you are. Those questions immediately get answered and you find out you are not on earth anymore, but in hell. You apparently took the job as a prison ward, as a spirit, whilst your body is dormant in the ‘real world’. Getting paid a hefty sum of $0 per hour, you are starting to regret your choice of accepting the job at hand. Well, it’s not that you really know what the job at hand is.

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Promptly after your confusing wakeup call, you are introduced to several young female delinquents who are trapped in hell, or at least purgatory. Your task is to confront these girls with their sins to present them with a chance to redeem themselves and earn a second chance on earth. Of course this band of misfits will not join you blindly and they will need some ‘motivation’, in the form of kinky games to purge them of their temptations.

Whilst at first the story might sound a tad superficial, halfway through, the character development becomes only few inches shy of great. You will see the girls develop, their personalities open up and more and more of the girls their background will become clear. You will get attached to these attractive delinquents, and by the end you hope they will end up fine. That being said, the story starts up quite slowly and thus it’s understandable that players will end their journey to reincarnation prematurely. But if you happen to wade through the first hours of hell, you will not be disappointed.

Graphics

Graphically Criminal Girls: Invite Only will not wow you at any given point during the game. You will be treated to an old school overview, which still looks attractive to a certain extent. The motivation games show you pretty pictures of girls, but without that much movement. It will remind some of certain pretty animated flash games. Same can be said of the combat animations, but these lean more towards very basic flash games, instead of qualitative ones. Whilst the combat overview does the job, a bit more effort to make it seem like a Vita game, instead of a PSP game would have been great.

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During the motivation games, the dressed up (or reasonably naked) girls are surrounded by pink clouds, extra cosplay items, in order to censor what is going on. As if these items combined were not enough, the developers decided to cut away certain parts of the picture, by zooming in to make some body parts fall outside of the screen. Overall, this hampers the ‘adult’ atmosphere of the game and in reality some of the censored items make certain things feel even more dirty. When a pink cloud is placed in front of a lady’s underpants, it makes it seem as if they are not wearing any at all. Thus, no one knows why this had to be done, to be approved for western markets.

Sound

NIS America is known for witty dialogues and catchy tunes, and for the most part this is true in Criminal Girls: Invite Only. You will have fun battle themes to listen to and a decent overworld theme per zone. Sadly these become quite repetitive as the game progresses due to a lack of the amount of tracks the game presents you with.

Another weird choice of censorship was implemented in the motivation games. When ‘motivating’ the girls, the original version presented you with soft moans or disagreeing noises from the girls. In order for the game to be released here, they had to mute these noises. This makes your punishment seem incredibly awkward, as the girls just lie there and take the mild torture without any form of disagreement. It feels as if they have been doing it for years and it has become fairly standard to them, just like breathing or having lunch. Be warned, awkwardness ensues.

A plus goes out to the authentic Japanese dialogues, which are fun to listen to. A great effort from this otherwise hampered game (audio-wise).

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Gameplay

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a fairly old school 2D JRPG at its core. You will be crawling through a fixed amount of floors, in order to reach the pinnacle of hell, where the girls will be confronted with their sins. Whilst the amount of floors is fairly limited, you will have to backtrack a lot and of course grind a lot in order to be able to progress.

Whilst the idea sounds fairly simple, NIS America has the tendency to add some original twists and ideas to the equation. Your girls will still level up, by traditional means, namely vanquishing the convicts that roam through the different floors of hell. Your skills however, will not level through traditional means. To unlock new skills, you will have to motivate the girls through mini-games that involve mild forms of ‘sexual torture’, that in the end is not more than a quick time event, with a sexy anime girl in the background. During the course of the game you will unlock new mini-games as you progress, which in turn will unlock new sets of skills for you to use during combat. In the original game you had the option to pay double in order to gag the girls and muffle out their complaining. As the censor has now silenced the girls, this option becomes completely useless.

Combat is another factor that is both old school and original. You will be presented with a very simple looking turn based combat sequence, where you can opt for main attacks, support skills or attack skills. The only oddity is the fact that you can’t really choose when you wish to use certain skills. Each turn, the game will make suggestions which skills are available to you (per character) or at time you will only receive the option of doing normal attacks. The closer you draw near to the end of the game, you can link normal attacks, in a way that each character can attack as a chain. You will also find special ‘chain’ skills, where two characters need to work together in order to pull off massive damage or supportive boosts. Overall the combat system proves to be a fun change of pace from other titles where you can simply keep on spamming the same skill over and over, but it’s noticeable that good skills are not available from the start, when going through boss battles etc.

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Extra skills are to be found in the form of ‘Field Skills’. These skills can be activated when roaming through the lands, outside of combat. You can track treasure chests, heal allies, go back to resting areas and so on, at the cost of mana points.

Your party will grow from four girls to seven during your journey through hell, but you will only be able to use four girls during combat. That being said, you can always do one switch and use one item, before you choose which attack you wish to use. This makes it so, that switching between characters is easy and the fact that you do not lose a turn motivates you to use other girls as well.

Even the girls you do not use in combat will receive their share of experience, which is also great because the game will force you to use different girls at certain points in the game. Certainly a great source of frustration has been bypassed by approaching the experience distribution in such a manner.

All ‘items’ you find during your playthrough are quest items or consumables. This means that the game presents you with no real customization options, concerning the gear your characters use. Other than the limited amount of items you find, you will earn money by defeating foes or opening chests on the map. Money is solely used for the motivation games or purchasing consumables. It’s sad that the game does not give you any more options.

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The game works with save points but you will come across plenty on your journey. At these points you can rest, motivate the girls and as the name states, save your progress. If you happen to turn off your portable (or PlayStation TV) you have the option to save in the middle of nowhere, with the condition that you exit the game when you do so. When continuing, the created save file will immediately be deleted.

Conclusion

Criminal Girls: Invite Only is a great title at its core, with quirky ideas and original gameplay features. Sadly some functions are not fully explored or are too limited to fully enjoy. The censorship has given a hard blow against the concept of the original PSP title and this is noticeable when playing through the game. Only those who make it through the first half of the game will be treated to an excellent story that shows a lot of character development.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Criminal Girls: Invite Only - Review, 6.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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